Oxford City Council has given the green light for a project which could yield 30 affordable homes on council-owned brownfield sites in Barton, Wood Farm and Blackbird Leys.
Last week, Cabinet agreed to use an award of £340,213 from the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) to undertake legal and enabling work which will include demolition of garage sites and derelict bungalows.
This will help pave the way for a mix of affordable community-led and council homes in Underhill Circus, Leiden Road, Balfour Road, Harebell Road and Pegasus Road.
Community-led homes in Blackbird Leys
Community-led housing means local people play a leading and lasting part in helping deliver the homes communities need.
The Council has been working with Transition by Design and Oxfordshire Community Land Trust (OCLT) on plans to deliver community-led housing on land it owns. Last week’s decision follows a 2021 joint feasibility study which mapped council garage sites and other unused land in Blackbird Leys to assess their suitability for new homes.
The feasibility study included extensive community engagement and identified the three most suitable sites from an initial shortlist of eight.
BLRF funding will allow the demolition of 34 garages on two sites in Harebell Road and Pegasus Road and further work to prepare a vacant former garage site in Balfour Road for development. Each site has the potential for four new homes.
There are around 1,925 council garages and nearly 750 of these are vacant. The garages in Harebell Road and Pegasus Road are too small for modern cars and 16 garages still let are used for storage. Tenants will be offered an alternative garage nearby.
The Council intends to grant a long lease to OCLT which will allow the trust to redevelop the sites. Once completed, OCLT will let the new homes at rents no greater than local housing allowance to people nominated from the housing register.
Council homes in Barton and Wood Farm
BLRF funding will allow the Council to start work on plans that could deliver up to 12 council homes in Underhill Circus and up to six council homes in Leiden Road. This will include the demolition of two uninhabitable council bungalows in Leiden Road.
The Council intends to let the new homes at social rent to people on the housing register.
Council housing company OX Place will manage the delivery of these two sites.
All five sites are at an early stage of development, with no planning consent yet sought or given. The agreement to legal and enabling work is a necessary step for work on developing the sites to progress.
The Council will contract with ODS for all demolition and grant fund OCLT for other enabling works on the garage sites by 31 March.
The BLRF requires all land to be released for housing by the end of March 2027.
“Providing more affordable homes doesn’t just mean eye-catching big developments. We’re committed to finding innovative solutions for unlocking small brownfield sites, and we’re now able to take this work forward thanks to partnership work with Transition by Design and Oxfordshire Community Land Trust.
“These five sites could deliver up to 30 affordable council and community-led homes to people on our housing register and I’m looking forward to seeing the small sites project progress.”
Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing
"We are delighted that Oxford City Council has approved the disposal of these three sites to Oxfordshire Community Land Trust, and is committed to working with and supporting us in the creation of permanently affordable homes in the city."
Mark Child, Chair of OCLT